Various routes to counselling psychology... Pros and Cons?

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Various routes to counselling psychology... Pros and Cons?

Post by Yiannis_K » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:44 am

Goodmorning :-)

I just registered and have to say that this site is amazing. A wealth of information and more :-)

I am writing this as I am contemplating taking a next step towards counselling psychology (obtained GBC and currently completing a pg certificate in counselling skills). I am a mature student and work part time as a business academic but I am passionate about pursuing / exploring a path towards counselling psychology. I have researched options on how to develop and found that there are a number of routes open to a person who seeks to maintain a day job and hence fund their training. What I do not know is how each of these less conventional routes is perceived and what employment options are available to these graduates. I would be grateful for any insight, opinion or information that you can offer.

Here is a summary of the (less conventional) part time options / routes leading to counselling psychology doctorates:

1) Independent route to training + Post chartership top-up doctorate

this route involves registration with the BPS for the Qualification in counselling psychology. The training is customised for each individual but usually involves an MSc in psychotherapy / counselling, necessary placements and regular supervision by a coordinator of training appointed by the BPS. There is an exam in the end as well.
A person can enter this route after completing a conversion diploma (granting GBC) and a certificate in counselling. As things stand (please correct me if I am wrong) one can start on this route without extensive face to face counselling experience. This experience is gained gradually during the first stages of a diploma/MSc in psychotherapy or counselling (taken as part of the training). Part time attendance and customised training means that chartership can be obtaied in 4-6 years after which one may continue to a post chartership top-up doctorate (offered by many conventional unis) which takes 1 or 2 years.

Total time of training: 5 to 8 years (approx), End qualification: QCoP and DCPsych

2) Part time doctorate in counselling psychology. Most universities don't really offer a part time option that is really useful to a person maintaining a part time day job. However, some institutions do currently offer evening, afternoon or weekend delivery. More specifically: Metanoia Institute offers a 5 year part time doctorate in counselling psychology delivered in 3 day blocks once a month (Fri, Sat and Sun).
Regents college had something similar but it lost its BPS accreditation and is trying hard to regain it.
The metanoia DCPsych programme entry requires the GBC, some exposure in helping roles, extensive (weekend long) interviews and selection but as it incorporates a certificate (year1), it does not require applicants to have extensive face to face counselling experience at the time of application. This is gradually gained during training there. Training there costs A LOT (much more than in route 1).

Total time to training: 5-6 years (approx), End qualification: DCPsych

As you can see above... two training routes available for those who need to maintain jobs and who would like to start and then build face to face counselling experience as part of the programme.
In contrast, most conventional universities require extensive (1year) face to face counselling experience as a prerequisite to application. This experience can usually be gained through placements as part of a diploma in counselling which means that applicants usually spend 2-3 years building these up prior to application. Their DCPsych training usually lasts 3 years full time though.

Questions in my mind:
a) Considering Routes 1 and 2 and how unconventional they are, how are graduates perceived by employers such as the NHS and even University psychology departments? In other words, if someone follows route 1 or 2, are they considered as well trained as graduates from conventional universities? Are the same opportunities open to all, including academic posts in counselling psychology?

b) Does anyone have any insight / experience regarding the quality of training for the counselling psychology doctorate at Metanoia? Are graduates well received?

Counselling psychology fascinates me but as the train is so long and expensive, I would really like to know what awaits me in the end :-)

Perhaps (hopefully) the above summary has helped some people like me.

I am really looking forward to reading your views regarding my questions above.

many thanks in advance

All the best

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Post by eponymous85 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:16 am

Hi, welcome to the forum! I don't know the answers to your questions but I will be watching this thread intently - I know someone who is currently considering the same things.
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Post by Yiannis_K » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:22 am

Thank you for the warm welcome :-). I have a feeling my question is a bit specialised to say the least ... hope someone might be able to shed some light but in any case, it might provide a good conversation topic.


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Post by lexi81 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:04 pm

I must say that i am highly interested in this thread too. At present I have just completed a postgraduate diploma in counselling after doing my psychology degree ... Lots of studying lol. I am keen to do the counselling doctorate but like the other person who has posted I am currently not in the position to undertake it as a full time programme due to the cost . I am trying to think of ways to get some research experience to support any application but feel my research skills are rusty since I completed my degree in 2005

Anyway enough rambling just keen to hear about the paths others have taken to counselling psychology, thanks , lexi x

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Post by shadowfox » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:52 pm

Welcome Yiannis_K to the Forum.... the best thing since sliced bread for us psychology lot :) of course as you may have guessed most of us want to go down the clinical path, but there are others here who are interested in other career paths (educational psych, counselling psych etc) and of course plenty of interested lurkers :)

I cannot provide a specialist answer to your question however....

As far as I understand it your question seems to be, in part, one of testing the waters of academic snobbery.... will I be looked down upon because I took the part time route? I would say no.

Financially it's the only way to get there for some people! and I think what matters to employers like the NHS is the end result. Once you have achieved the qualification you will be on equal par with others with that same qualification..... if you understand what I mean, many paths lead to the same place...DCpsych. box ticked. Then its your chance to say why you are the best person for the job

seems like you have really researched your options, and the other posts here suggest to me that there are others in the same boat, thinking the same things as you.

I am learning more and more that there is no one absolute way to get there in psychology.

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Post by miriam » Sat Nov 20, 2010 2:10 pm

Well, until your post I'd never heard of Metanoia. Having a look at their site it looks like they do lots of counselling/coaching/psychotherapy CPD things, and the doctorate is their most prestigious/academic course. I'd wonder about their academic standards for the research/thesis components, but it does seem to be validated by Middlesex University.

So, if I was short-listing would I view it as equal to doing a full-time course at a traditional university? If I'm honest, I don't know! But then, I still haven't fully grasped what defines counselling psychology, and what defines that training as being at doctorate level, beyond it being quite similar to clinical psychology...

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Post by Yiannis_K » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:19 am

Thank you for your comments so far everyone :-)

Lexi, congrats on completing the psychology degree and the diploma in counselling. Great achievements both :-). Lets see how much we learn from contributions in this thread but from what i gather you are in a great position to take advantage of the bps independent route to training. As you have completed the psychology before the diploma you must already have achieved the GBR/GBC. In this cas you can have your diploma recognised as contributing to the qualification in counselling psychology. In other words you have a head start there :-). You will likely be asked to top the diploma with a research masters which will ensure the rearch component for chartership. In this case you don't need to worry about gaining entry. After this you can stay with counselling psychology chartership only or progress further to do the post chartership doctorate to end up with the DCpsych. Most traditional unis offer this in either full or part time mode.
Of course i am not suggesting the independent route or the metanoia route are the best ... as myriam suggests, we don't know yet how the 2 routes i describe in my original post at the top, compare with a traditional DCpsych. Most people are driven by the desire to help others and by interest in the human wellbeing but at the same time it would be a pity to dedicate 8 years studying for a qualification and then to realise that for example academic departments in counselling psychology are looking down on those who took the independent route to training. Lets see what we find :-)

Shadowfox, thank you for the positive comments and i want to believe that you are right :-)

Myriam, i have also found it difigicult to get clear answers about the distinction and i also get the feeling that the boundary between counselling and clinical psych is quite blurred. The training pathways are so many though. This is great to have so many paths e.g the 2 routes i describe but it is important as you emphasise that they are at par with the more tradional routes. I really hope they are and that they are also perceived to be such. I also wonder about metanoia and the research training quality. They are indeed validated by middlesex uni and their DCpsych is listed as accredited by the Health professions council. I guess that does not necessarily guarantee how well one is trained at research or how employable one becomes for nhs and academic positions in psychology. It may indeed be safer to go for the indepent route and then complete a post chartership research doctorate at a traditional uni?. Like you, i don't know yet. Lets see what we find out :-)


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Post by Spatch » Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:07 pm

You may also think about contacting some of the more established Counselling Psychology departments (e.g. Surrey, City etc) and enquire if they support independent route applicants. I heard this was happening a few years ago at some of the departments and may still be the case. They are likely to have more infastructure, placement contacts, library resources, ongoing research projects to tap into etc.

As for Metanoia, I do have a close friend (counselling psychologist) who was planning to work for them, and from my impression it is more of a therapeutic institution than a traditional university (in the same vain as somewhere like the Tavistock). This is not necessarily a bad thing, but just something to be aware of, and its sounds like a lot of interesting therapists are linked to it.
Considering Routes 1 and 2 and how unconventional they are, how are graduates perceived by employers such as the NHS and even University psychology departments? In other words, if someone follows route 1 or 2, are they considered as well trained as graduates from conventional universities? Are the same opportunities open to all, including academic posts in counselling psychology
If you are to get qualified as a counselling psychologist, I haven't noticed that kind of snobbery. They value maturity, life experience (with some of the courses being explicit in only accepting people over a certain age) difference and diversity a lot (more than clinical psychologists in my experience).

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